Tania Giannouli, Paulo Chagas: Forest Stories (Rattle)

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Gannouli/Chagas: This Beautiful Hard Way
Tania Giannouli, Paulo Chagas: Forest Stories (Rattle)

Although not on the Rattle Jazz imprint, these eight diverse, melodic and mood shifting pieces are pure improvisations for piano (Giannouli) and saxes/flutes/clarinets (Chagas) and evoke something of the timelessness, emotional space and natural power of the forests of the title.

Without much difficulty -- and let's be honest, pure improvisation along these lines can be hard going for most -- the thoughtful listener can hear elements of the players' classical training in melodic progressions as much as the nudges towards visceral free jazz when the energy is let off the leash.

From their quite different backgrounds (she Greek, he Portuguese) they find common ground in their willingness to take the risk of a blank page, extrapolate from emotional spaces (the repeated dark piano figure of This Beautiful Hard Way inviting the ballad treatment which Chagas explores on flute as her lines become more fluid and elevating) and not be fearful of space/silence.

There is also great delicacy here -- the reflective closing piece The Way Back Home -- and over the arc from the increasingly confident if dark opener Step By Step (which reads like a walk into a brooding woodland) through the evocative tones of Is This Forever? to those thoughtful final passages, this feels like a poetic journey through space and time as much as music.

Much more approachable and than the description "pure improvisation" might suggest because these players -- who have an intuitive understanding of each other -- can draw of vast traditions of classical and jazz for ideas.

Of and in the moment.

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